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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
There's a million ways to detail your car. You can get really into the details, products, and techniques. I'm not a professional detailer, but I honestly enjoy cleaning my car. This is just the way that I do it.. For more information you can go to sites like autogeek and read the thousands of threads discussing every detail of detailing.

Before you start: This is an all day affair. I'm sure you can break it up into several days but I like to bang it out all at once. This means you're going to need enough beer for an entire afternoon.

1) Gathering and preparing your materials.

Again, there are a million different types of products and tools. You could get away using less stuff I'm sure, but I like to try new products when it's on sale.





You need to properly wash you microfiber towels if they're new. Do this using free and clear detergent and set your washer to medium heat. You can let your towels air dry or fluff in the dryer. You should wash your polishing pads/ towels after you wash your car each time. I use a pad cleaning product that came with my polisher but an APC (all purpose cleaner) spritz and hot water will do the trick.


This is the stuff I use:
- dish soap (DISH SOAP? ON A CAR!? Yes! I'll explain later)
-2 buckets
-wash mit and various brushes
-hose/nozzle
-sonax wheel cleaner
-mothers trim cleaner
-various microfiber towels (get the good ones if you can afford it. See stocktowelsnow.com)
-Porter-Cable DA polisher w/ various 5.5 inch pads
-Wolfgang swirl remover 3.0
-Chemical Guys EZ crème glaze
-Chemical guys Jetseal
-Chemical guys liquid carnauba crème wax
-chemical guys VRP super shine dressing
-detailing spray (any brand will work)
-Simoniz detailing clay
-invisible glass window cleaner
-rain-x
-masking tape
-10% Isopropyl alcohol dilution in a spray bottle
-Chemical guys all purpose cleaner
-vacuum
-Chemical guys stain remover/ carpet cleaner
-Armor all interior all purpose cleaner
-Meguiars interior protectant
-Saran wrap and rubber bands
-beer and music

2) I was switching from my winter wheels to my summer wheels. So I did that first. Notice that car isn't that dirty to begin with because I sprayed it down at the pay and spray last week do get rid of the big stuff.



While the wheels were off I sprayed some APC on the wheel wells and scrubbed them down first.

Before:


After:


Then I sprayed the winter wheels with sonax, let them sit for about 5 minutes and scrubbed them with my wheel brush. I put them in the sun to let them dry out.



3) Wash the car!
Wheels:
Start with a car that is cold in a shaded area. Prepare your two buckets by filling one with a few drops of CAR SOAP in one and just regular water in the other. I'm using car soap here because I don't need to strip anything from the wheels or wheel wells.
Start with the wheels. I spray the Sonax wheel cleaner on the wheels and APC on the tires and wheel wells. Let the products sit for a few moments and then go back in with your brushes and soapy water to clean them out. (Note: If you're using Sonax (which I think is the best wheel cleaner) you don't want the product to dry on the wheels) I use a microfiber wheel brush on the wheels, a toilet brush on the wheel wells, and a soft scrub brush on the tires. Be sure to periodically rinse your tools in clean water and get more soapy water. Rinse off your wheels then dump and rinse your buckets.

Vehicle:
Fill one bucket with a few drops of DISH SOAP and the other with just water. We're using dish soap for the paint because we want to strip off all of the old sealant and wax. If you don't aren't planning on re-waxing then use a more gentle soap like car soap.
Spray down your entire car first and try to get off as much large debris as you can. A power washer comes in handy here.
Start with the roof and work your way down rinsing your microfiber mitt thoroughly and re-soaking it with soap periodically. I do sections at a time and rinse the ENTIRE CAR to keep it wet and avoid water spots. Think of washing your car as "lifting" the dirt off the car rather than "scrubbing" it off.
I also used a brush attachment with mothers back to black trim cleaner to clean the trim. Any brush will do but this saves me time.
Tips: Don't scrub away at something that's not coming off! This is going to scratch your car at worst and introduce swirls at best. If something is embedded in your paint we'll get it in the next step. Again, I'm using dish soap with this wash because I want to remove all my old paint sealant and get down to the just the paint. If you're just doing a maintenance wash or have recently waxed then use something gentler.
For the final rinse take your hose attachment off and make a "sheet" of water to run off the car which will help with the drying. I dry the car with a waffle weave and GENTLY drag it over the car. A wet microfiber will absorb more water so spray it with your hose first and ring it out. Optional: go over the cracks with an electric leaf blower.


5) Paint inspection!
Grab an LED flashlight and go over your car to determine your paint condition. My paint is in "good" but not excellent shape. There are many light scratches and a few swirl marks in the paint. If your car is in excellent shape then skip the polishing. If your car is in terrible shape then hire someone who knows what they're doing to correct it.

I had trouble picking up the swirls and differences with my camera. But here are some examples:



6) Test spot
Tape off a small 2x2 foot section in the area your paint is the worst.
Start with your least invasive technique and gradually increase until you get your desired finish.
In my case I'll start with a less aggressive white pad and the swirl remover then move to gradually less aggressive pads as I apply my glaze, sealant, and wax. Take off the tape and inspect.

Tips: When taping a car it's a good idea to "burn" the tape by putting the tape on your clean shirt first so it doesn't stick too tightly. When polishing, don't turn your machine on until its touching the paint and don't lift the machine off the car until it's turned off or you will have product splattered everywhere.


Before:


After:


7) Tape off
I like to tape off the rubber pieces on the car before I continue. You can partially bring down your sunroof to avoid discoloring that rubber. I also pop out my grills. A little extra work taping off your car will save you huge headaches later. Any masking tape will work for this.
Tips: when polishing your lower doors you can just open them so you don't have to tape off the top part.



8) Polish the whole car
I repeat the same thing I did on my test spot to the whole car. ~15lbs of pressure until the polish has worked itself in and starts to get shiny. Then wipe off with microfiber. Start with the roof and work your way down. Periodically, you will need to clean your pad. To do this I walk away from the car and take a nylon brush to the pad while its spinning. You can also use a towel and run the pad into the towel.


9) Wipe down
Some folks will wash their car again, but I just use a diluted 10% isopropyl alcohol and really soft microfiber towel. The goal here is to remove all of the polish oils from the car so we get better adherence with our next few steps. You want to be gentle because we don't have many scratches at this point and we want to keep it that way!

10) Glaze it
This was my first time using a glaze on the car. The purpose of a glaze is to "cover up" any small imperfections that weren't fixed by polishing by using fillers. It's not going to fix these imperfections but it will look nicer. Because my car is silver I wanted to try a glaze to get a better shine/ wet look. Same process as the polishing but here I'm using a softer gray pad and less pressure. Wipe down each section as you finish with a fresh towel.
After glazing, go over your car one more time to make sure you've removed all the excess.

After Glaze:


11) Seal it
Next I use a sealant. I prefer using a sealant because I only detail my car twice a year (before/after winter). Jetseal claims a really long protection time but I find it lasts about 4-6 months. (I use jetseal because I got it on sale but It's not the best product out there) I use an even softer blue pad to apply it to the whole car and let it cure for the directed time. While I'm waiting I'll switch over to my summer tires. When it's dried you just wipe it down with microfiber.

12) Wax it
I'm taking it a step further here and applying some liquid wax over my sealant. This step isn't necessary but it will give your car a deeper shine, as sealant often lacks the shine of a carnauba wax. Same process as the sealant but this time I'm using the softest red pad so I don't remove any sealant during the waxing process. I remove the wax with a really soft, fluffy microfiber towel.

After Wax:



13) Final wipe
Remove your tape and go over the car to make sure you've wiped off all the wax. You're done… with the body. Next step are the windows and trim.

14) Windows
I clayed the windows when I clayed the rest of the car so they are pretty clean. Next I hit it with some invisible glass and a microfiber towel for glass. I'll do this a few times to make sure its super clean then you can apply rain-x or whatever you like to use. You can also use a razor blade to carefully remove any caked on bugs.

15) Finishing touches
I apply a thin coat of the super shine dressing to the plastic trim and go over the car one last time. Ain't she a beut?

After pulling off the tape you can see the difference with the trim shine:


Glamor Shot:

 

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wow, you weren't messing around with this post. I'll have to go through it when I have more time, but thanks for taking the time to put this together.
 

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Great post! (I think this one should be stickied! :thumbup:)

Good guidelines for those who want to take care of their car! :)
 

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Great thread with great vids!

If anyone wants more in depth info on major paint correction and buffing or just tips and tricks, look up AMMO NYC on youtube!!
 

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Really good guide! This is one of those things people just do, but don't do it to the fullest extent they could. However, you go above and beyond!

Great job again, and the 40 looks flawless.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Engine Bay

In our last installment we covered paint correction and washing technique. This time we will be doing the engine bay.

Before shots:






Make sure your engine is COLD. You do not want to do this on a hot engine. Also, you will need to wash your car after this! Grime and dirt will be on your exterior paint when you're done.

WARNING #1: Getting your engine wet can cause damage and electrical shorts.

WARNING #2: Different towns have different waste water restrictions. Be sure you won't be contaminating your water/ getting in trouble with the runoff from your engine bay. They make special pads that you slide under your car to absorb the oils and grease that will wash off.

1) Gather your materials and supplies:

Here's what I used:

Chemical Guys all purpose cleaner
Various paint brushes, scrub brushes etc
Dirty microfiber towels (not ones for your paint)
VRP Super shine dressing (chemical guys)
Plastic bags and tape

2) Cover sensitive areas.

Most importantly cover your alternator and battery cables. I also covered any exposed wires I found with a piece of tape as well as sealed the dipstick. Obviously if you have an open air filter you want to make sure you cover that completely.









3) Give it a light spray with your hose.

Put your hose selector on mist and just mist the engine. You don't need to soak it down. Make sure you're at least a foot or two away from everything as you spray it.



Hopefully this picture shows you about how much water you need (not much)

4) Spray the engine bay, hood, and plastic trim with your degreaser or all purpose cleaner. Let it soak for a few minutes and agitate your covers, nooks and crannies with a soft brush or an old rag. Your goal here is to let your product do most of the work. You shouldn't have to use much elbow grease if you're using the right stuff.

5) Rinse. Put your hose on a soft setting (I used mist) and begin to rinse off the dirt. All you want to do here is let the water carry away the dirt without it getting lodged anywhere. Make sure you water source is a few feet away so you don't force water where it doesn't belong.

6) Dry. First I soaked up as much water as I could with one of my old microfiber towels. Then I took out my electric leaf blower and got all the small areas I couldn't reach. You're going to leave your covers/ tape on still so look out for puddles over your bags.



Here's how mine looked after drying it and before the dressing.

7) Remove all of your bags and tape.

8) After the engine is completely dry, you can apply dressing if you wish. I choose to use Chemical Guys VRP which is safe on vinyl, rubber and plastic. It's a creme so its wipe on wipe off and leaves a subtle shine with lower gloss. They make products that are sprays which don't need to be wiped afterward. These can get down into the small areas where I couldn't reach and tend to leave a glossy shine.



Here's the finished product:







When you're finished make sure you wash your car! You don't want any engine grime on your paint for very long.
 

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:thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:

(But personally, I'm not too impressed by the CG-products, they're just not good enough... :p)
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
:thumbup: :thumbup: :thumbup:

(But personally, I'm not too impressed by the CG-products, they're just not good enough... :p)
I agree! Not the best products out there by any means- (Except their Lightning Fast Carpet & Upholstery Stain Extractor. I've never used anything even close to as good as it)

The price is decent though and I like trying out new products each year. This year I decided to try out the Chemical Guys line and overall I'd give it a 6/10 for performance.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Glass Polishing and Paint Chip Repair coming soon

COMING SOON #1: how to polish your windshield!

Hey everyone! It's been awhile since I've updated this thread. I still have an interior detail post to come, but I will be polishing my windshield first. Currently my windshield has streaks/scratches from the wipers and terrible night vision as a result. It looks like THIS. After tons of research, I've got my plan ready. I will be using CeriGlass Glass Polish and one of their Rayon Glass Polishing Pads . I just need some free time to do it and make the write up.

COMING SOON #2: how to repair paint chips/road rash!

This will be a spring project, but many of you have asked me about the best way to do minor paint repair. I ordered a Dr. ColorChip kit and I'll be doing a full write up of the prep/methods/ final product. This will be the ultimate test for this kit because light colors are often the most difficult to repair.

Looking forward to finishing the ULTIMATE detailing thread!
 

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Looks good, this guy knows what he's talking about!
 

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I agree! Not the best products out there by any means- (Except their Lightning Fast Carpet & Upholstery Stain Extractor. I've never used anything even close to as good as it)

The price is decent though and I like trying out new products each year. This year I decided to try out the Chemical Guys line and overall I'd give it a 6/10 for performance.
What would you say is the best cleaner brand? I'm looking at buying new products now, so I'm ready for spring!
 
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